Academy executives from nearly 30 esteemed football clubs across Europe gathered at AFC Ajax for the second module of the ECA Academy Management Programme (AMP) this week. The module offered an exclusive opportunity to share a wide range of ideas, as well as participate in key discussions and immersive experiences around the central theme of talent development.

The ECA AMP, which is being delivered in collaboration with Johan Cruyff Institute (JCI), is a tailored blended executive education programme designed to meet the specific needs and goals of its bespoke audience; namely Academy Directors and those in management positions at academies.

A product of the ECA Youth Football Strategy and ECA Youth Working Group, and a brand-new initiative from ECA Campus, the programme aims to elevate and inspire its participants to grow as leaders and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to realise the full potential of their academies.

The programme for this three-day module was designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of talent development, and strategies to enhance football academies. From engaging expert sessions to academy observation sessions, the programme provided a learning journey under the leadership of renowned speakers and mentors who are deeply committed to shaping the future of European football.

The participants, who were meeting for the first time in person, were warmly welcomed with networking drinks on the opening evening, setting the tone for an inclusive and lively learning programme.

The first day kicked-off at the iconic Johan Cruyff ArenA, the home of Ajax FC. In the wonderful setting of this football venue, participants were presented with a series of expert-led sessions, including a keynote lecture on 'Building a Sports Strategy' by Keld Boordingaard from Bayer Leverkusen. The day then concluded with a visit to the Ajax Academy, giving a first-hand insight into the club's renowned development ecosystem.

The second day was a combination of theoretical insights and practical sessions. Albert Capellas and Juan Torrijo, experts in the positional game inspired by Johan Cruyff, explained their methodology. A captivating training session on the Ajax Academy pitch highlighted the practical aspects of positional play, fostering a deeper understanding and igniting key discussions among the participants.

The final day was marked by animated debates on the theme of "Street football vs. Academic football", which encouraged collaboration between the participants, before concluding all the learning from the three-day module.

Throughout the module participants were encouraged to share their experiences and insights, as well as reflect upon the knowledge gained, critically analysing how to apply the learnings to their own environments: 

Isaac Arques Soriano, Riga FC Academy Sport Director, said: "It was a pleasure to be with the group, sharing time with colleagues, exchanging knowledge and experience, and sharing common problems to seek common solutions. I’m taking back ideas to my club, different opinions and perspectives to share with other colleagues. We have been shown the way forward.

Steven Hammel, Celtic FC Director & Head of Academy Coaching, added:"It was really valuable to connect with peers and share practices. It shows you the importance of culture, environment, communication and attention to small details. I have been left totally inspired."

Participants represent: Shamrock Rovers, BK Hacken, SC Dnipro-1, FC Universitatea Cluj, Crusaders FC, VfL Bochum 1848, FC Dinamo Tbilisi, AS Roma, Arsenal Women FC, SK Slavia Praha, FC Dynamo Kiyv, Riga FC, AGF Aarhus, FC Pyunik, KKS Lech Poznań, Parma Calcio 1913, Eintracht Frankfurt, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Clube Portugal, Larne FC, NK Maribor, Manchester United FC, Celtic FC, RSC Anderlecht, Romanian Football Federation (FRF) and European Club Association (ECA).

For further information on the ECA AMP, or any other ECA Campus education programmes, please contact

Johan Cruyff Institute:

The ECA AMP is a collaboration with Johan Cruyff Institute, where sport, management and social work are three key pillars of the Dutch great’s legacy. Cruyff’s own experience as a professional footballer, and later as a coach and advisor, led him to devise a plan to help athletes enter the working world at the end of their sports careers, leading to the founding of the Johan Cruyff Institute in 1999. Since then, it has trained athletes, sport managers and other professionals in sport management, marketing, sponsorship, football business, leadership and coaching. It now offers over 90 study programmes, In Company Training, Sport Xperiences and, besides it’s pioneer Online Platform, has teaching centres in Spain, the Netherlands, Peru and Mexico.